|A Subtle Tension|
|Summary:||Seeking out the Private Sept for some prayer and contemplation Lyanna meets Ceinlys for the first time since the steward's departure from Highfield and engages in a conversation with her. They are soon joined by Robben.|
|Related Logs:||Stuff concerning the aftermath of A Gruesome Revelation, especially To Share A Burden|
|Private Sept, Tanglewood Manor|
|Though modestly sized, perhaps, this sept is well designed, making the best use of the available space. Watching over the chamber, at the far end, are six statuettes and one vacant plinth - one for each aspect of the new faith. Before each is a small altar for offerings and to bear a candle to light in moments of prayer. The windows here are set within only the wall beyond the bejeweled figures and cast of thick, leaded glass; ensuring a soft, ethereal illumination that is a balm to the unquiet mind. Aside from the plush kneeling cushions laid before the altars, a few pews of well-carved oak occupy the floor, where one might find a seat for any ceremonies taking place within the House.|
|For the time being, a tribute has been placed upon the main altar in memory of the recently deceased former Lord of Highfield.|
|January 9th, 290|
Dusk has fallen upon Highfield, casting its dancing shadows upon the walls of the grieving keep, robbing the courtyards of their warmth. Most have retreated inside, in anticipation of the evening's meal and the comfort that sharing company over bread can provide. But some continue in their solitude, remaining stubbornly detached from unfurling events that may otherwise have guided one toward new friendships, or at least uncharacteristic sympathies.
The Lady Ceinlys returned to Tanglewood several days hence, and it's whispered she has taken over much of the responsibilities that ought to have fallen to the new Ashwood heir. It's a kindness, in it's way; the sort only she would think of, when others bring gentle words and pretty trinkets. And she has certainly been busy, which serves to distract the young woman from the pain she must be hiding. Of all Aleister's mistresses, she's arguably the one who endured the most and outlasted the others, with nary a complaint nor falter.
Put bluntly, though - he's gone now. Oh yes, the matters are still tended to. But that's merely the Haigh's way, it's all she knows. What's different, is now they are seen to with a hollow sort of disinterest. She's drifting. And here, in the tomblike quiet of the manor's private sept, it's all too easy to lose oneself, straying into thought while blue eyes linger on a dancing candleflame.
And… another lady is about to enter this place of prayer and contemplation, the rather sombre variant of Frey colours in her dress reflecting the recent death of the Lord of Highfield. Lyanna pauses at the door step ands casts a glance about the Private Sept, her gaze brushing over the statuettes and lingering for a moment on the empty seventh plint, before it comes to rest upon Ceinlys. As she recognizes the steward a hint of a smile appears on the Frey Ambassador's pale face, its almost white color contrasting the dark blue of her dress. And she approaches - but sees to her prayers first. She kneels down before the empty plinth, muttering a prayer with a stony expression on her face to the Stranger, for the souls of the dead, then continues to pray before the Maiden's statuette. Here a single tear runs down her face. Last is the Warrior, and this prayer is a particulalrly fervent one, as Lyanna's knuckles are almost white from their intense grasp at each other.
Raising her gaze in a flit of dark lashes as the movement of a new visitor catches her attention, the former Steward blinks across at Lyanna, before recognition dawns. A faint smile is offered then, in kind, and she inclines her head slightly. But, as the Frey ambassador moves to make her prayers before the Seven, Ceinlys remains silent, not wishing to intrude upon the solace and reflection of another. No, she remains comfortably seated upon a pew, hands clasped about her upper knee. Her attire has likewise taken a turn for the sombre; hues of ebon and midnight blue a similarly stark contrast to her fair pallor. She carries it well enough, though.
Rising from her last prayer, Lyanna turns and approaches Ceinlys, her face brightened by a civil smile that might lack her usual warmth but helps make her look less like a ghost. She greets the Erenford by marriage with a polite incline of her head. "Lady Ceinlys. These are dire times. But I am glad you have come." Despite some of her warmth finding its way back into her smile, the look of her deep blue eyes remains slightly distant and attentive, though, as her gaze comes to rest on the steward again. "Many from all over the Riverlands have come to offer their condolences."
A vague gesture of the noblewoman's hand invites Lyanna to sit, if she desires, alongside her on the polished wooden pew. "Thank you, Lady Lyanna. I admit, it's a pleasure to encounter a familiar face not of the grieving family itself." It's no small task, remaining a pillar of strength for the family, who remain reeling from their recent losses. "And yes, many more are expected in the next few days, prior to the ceremony and the feast to follow. I expected the new heir could use an experienced hand, to deal with the more trivial details concerning the household and preparations." Ah, not just a visit of condolence, then? She's here to work. How typical of her. "I trust you and yours have been comfortably settled?" The question of whether that bastard Knight accompanies her likely does occur to mind, but it goes unvoiced.
"'Tis true, although I must admit this family has welcomed me with open arms, so it's hard not to be affected by the tragic loss of two of their members." Lyanna replies, accepting the offered seat beside the steward. Recalling especially one of those two her jaw tightens slightly but the Frey keeps her composure and manages even a little smile. "Are you back in service then? I mean, as Steward of Highfield? I assure you, you have been sorely missed." Her voice trails off as she pauses, leaving room for interpretation whether she is referring to Lord Aleister, Lord Bastien, both even… or to herself, unlikely as it may seem. As for Ceinlys' question, it is answered with a nod. "My aunt and niece reside at the Ash and Oak Inn at the moment. And my bastard cousin has been seen at Highfield, but I haven't had the pleasure of meeting him. He might already be gone again, by now. As it is his habit not to stay long at one place. My grandfather tends to keep him busy."
"Not exactly." It's an odd situation, but the woman does her best to explain it, absently toying with a small bracelet that likely has gone unnoticed, within the clasp of one hand, as she speaks. "I remain the Steward of Broadmoor. But in the absence of one who would normally tend to arrangements, in the wake of such a tragic thing, I thought perhaps I may as well make use of my time here and alleviate the burdens Lord Bastien must now shoulder." True enough, with Aleister's former wife long gone, and a string of frivolous mistresses in between then and now, she does seem the obvious choice. Casting a glance aside to the Frey, Ceinlys musters a faint answering smile, which does little to thaw the ever-present frost that lays upon her countenance. "He and his family deserve their time to grieve. And, in a way, I suppose my being here one last time is a fitting way to say farewell.. in more ways than one."
Arching a brow, the noble doesn't, for once, entirely conceal her surprise at the notion of her presence having been missed. "Really?" The disbelief is gently tempered by a moment of contemplation. "Well.. if you say so." The revelation of Lyanna's family being not too far away doesn't seem to overly perturb the young woman; she merely nods her understanding and satsifaction at their needs being met, even if only by a humble inn. "I understand you were present when.. it happened." Is that a trace of actual concern for someone else? "I cannot imagine how awful.." Halting herself, she slowly shakes her head and offers simply, "I hope you are alright."
Clearing her throat, Lyanna folds her hands in her lap in reference perhaps to the spiritual location before she continues in a casual tone, her gaze still on the Erenford, observing her closely. "So your stay and assistance are only of a temporary nature?" A little sigh escapes her lips. "Even so, you must have strong ties to this place, Lady Ceinlys, that make you return now for a second time after a period of absence…?" The Frey looks at the other lady with a bit of uncerntainty, as she is obviously relying on some information here, she has gathered from others. But soon enough she adds, with a hint of respect in both her voice and her demeanour: "Not everyone would leave the needs of their family behind - to offer help in such grave times. Lord Bastien must indeed appreciate your loyalty to his House."
Lyanna's complexion pales a shade or two at the mention of the incident. "Aye. I was there." she replies, inhaling deeply and biting her lip. "And awful it was, my lady, I assure you." Suddenly her eloquence seems to fail her, and she needs a moment to regain her composure. "I am well enough, though, and thank you for your… concern."
Smart woman. Meeting Lyanna's gaze steadily, Ceinlys relents to a slow nod. "Of a temporary nature, yes. Somehow I doubt both that Lord Bastien will desire me here longer than is necessary, nor that my father will tolerate my absence overlong. I will do what I can, in the time that I have." As for the matter of her ties here.. those vivid blue eyes wander the walls of the private sept, accompanied momentarily by another soft smile. "It was to be my home, Lady Lyanna. I took as much care in the raising of Tanglewood as a mother does in the upbringing of a child. Regardless of who sits at the head of the Ashwood family now, and in the future.. this place will always be a part of me."
Returning her attention to the Frey beside her, the noblewoman folds her hands in her lap calmly, head tilting a little as she continues. "In addition, I owe a debt of gratitude to the Ashwoods, for their assistance in the search for my daughter. Unlike her own kin, they tried to help. I won't forget that." Well, that bodes fairly for Highfield. Not so much for Heronhurst, where they failed to lift a finger. Moving on, however.. "It is undeniably strange, to be here again." The smooth flow of her words is intended to discreetly divert any upset that last topic has caused the Ambassador. Tragedies and formalities she can handle. Tears? No. Definitely not. "Everything is the same, and yet irrevocably changed, all at once." Her eyes wander back to the candlelit tribute.
"It has been some time since your… departure. You have fared well then back at Broadmoor Keep, reunited with your family…?" Lyanna remarks, before her gaze flits to the door, perhaps distracted by a sound - or perhaps not. Turning her eyes back on the Erenford she reaches out for her hand in sympathy. "How shocked I was to hear about your daughter's disappearance. And how relieved I was to hear of her discovery and return. I have heard one Ashwood was particularly helpful in finding Lady Hafwen…?"
Noticing Ceinlys' gaze at the tribute on the altar, Lyanna's deep blue eyes widen as she remembers an important task that yet has to be accomplished. She starts fumbling at her wrist and removes a bracelet made of silver, a chain of little twin towers, showing an amazing amount of detail and artistry - a quite special piece of jewelry that surely has not been cheap. The steward's attempt of diverting the Frey from those unpleasant memories seems to have been successful indeed.
"There is always much to be done, at Broadmoor." is the young woman's diplomatic answer. Truth be told, being there, while perhaps rather monotonous, has given her the time to regroup and, to borrow the Ironborn phrase, rise again, harder and stronger. The topic of her daughter, though - safely returned as she may be - prompts a subtle tension along the raven-haired Steward's jawline. "She should never have been taken. I knew the Erenfords cared little for me, but to allow a child of noble lineage to be so easily snatched from under their noses.. their standards are lax indeed. Too deep in their cups, presumably, to concern themselves with such trivial matters." Quelling the surge of maternal, righteous anger, Ceinlys shakes her head, dismissing the lesser house from her thoughts. "And yes.. a cousin of Bastien's, Lord Daryl. He worked alongside my brother, dilligently, until she and the other children were found." A brief pause. "A pity that his mistakes saw him stripped of his rank only a short time later. But I suppose men have different priorities, sometimes."
Ceinlys and Lyanna are seated at a forward pew within the sept, conversing quietly in the candlelight of Aleister's tribute. "How lovely." The Haigh's eyes wander, perhaps inevitably, to the bracelet Lyanna removes, in seemingly genuine admiration for its craftsmanship.
Stepping into the Sept, Robben's expression changes a bit from how it's been when he's been out where people are. No more trying to look like he's doing well, tiredness now shows as he makes his way further into the room, finding the nearest place to seat himself now. There's no look around, so he hasn't noticed the others present for the moment.
Listening in diplomatic silence to Ceinlys' complaint of the Erenford's lack of attention in their care for Lady Hafwen, nodding slowly when she has finished. "I do not know the Erenfords very well, apart from attending two weddings at Heronhurst recently I've had little opportunity to meet any… That Lady Aemy though… Lord Daryl's betrothed. She is a kind lady. Supporting him even now that he has lost his title." The Frey's deep blue eyes rest on the bracelet for a moment, and hearing the steward's comment, a smile brightens up her face. "A most fitting tribute from House Frey, I dare say." She rises and approaches the altar to add the silver bracelet, that is glittering beautifully in the candle light, to the other offerings. When she returns to Ceinlys her face shows a mixture of proud contentment - and regret for giving away such a fine piece of jewelry. She offers Robben a silent greeting, curtsying lightly with a friendly smile.
Robben pauses for a few moments as he hears the sound of other people in here, grimacing a little before he turns to look in their direction now. Trying to put on that mask of being okay again, although it may go quite slowly. When he sees who it is, he offers them both a polite nod. "Lady Lyanna, Lady Ceinlys… I hope I'm not interrupting anything…" Slowly starting to get to his feet again now.
"You are not, I assure you, Lord Robben." Lyanna replies with a flicker of concern in her eyes. "I… Perhaps you need a moment alone…" A gesture towards the altar and the statuettes and the missing one, representing the Seven. "…for contemplation and prayers?" Then her gaze returns to the brother of the late Lord of Highfield with a little smile as she adds: "You of all should have the right to demand us to leave."
"I don't know," Robben admits after a few moments, letting out a bit of a sigh. "There's been so much solitude these last few days, even when there's someone else there." A brief pause again as he lets out another deep breath. "I just need some time…" Another sigh as he looks around. "Some moments to gather my strength again…"
Her gaze clouding slightly, the Frey lady sighs. "I know what you mean, my lord. But it is in dire times as these that friends and allies come from all over the Riverlands to offer their condolences - and their support as well." A little glance and a smile in Ceinlys' direction. "You are not alone in this." Lyanna's gaze returns to Robben now, trying to lend him the strength he so desperately needs with the steady look in her eyes. "We won't rest until the murderers have been found and tried." A grim expression appears on her face - quite foreign to her usually pleasant demeanour.
Robben nods a little bit as he hears that. "That's a good thing…" he offers to the part about the friends and allies coming from all over. "But in a way, that's what's draining my strength I guess." A brief pause, before he nods a little bit now. "Of course we will find them," he offers to the part about the murderers, his voice perhaps a bit colder for a few moments. A brief pause as he returns to normal. "There are moments now I just want to break down completely, though."
Lyanna lowers her gaze at first, being confronted with Robben's understandable weakness and despair. But then her posture straightens, emitting all the consciousness of both her station and her House, as the Frey Ambassador addresses him again, this time with determination and a certain demanding presence. "Don't give in to despair and to weakness. Your brother depends upon you as well. You must lend him whatever strength is left in you to carry on through this. Or others will seize the opportunity to… take advantage of the weakened state of your House…" A consequence that Lord Walder surely would not like to happen.